Former New York City ballet dancer Benjamin Millepied has stepped down as dance director at Paris’ premier ballet company reports Daily Mirror. The announcement was made on Thursday, February, 4th. Speculation about a possible departure surfaced after a recent documentary in which Millepied said he still wasn’t satisfied with the level of dance. In an interview with Le Figaro in December 2105, he said dancers should have more of a sense of entrepreneurship and fundraising — a concept foreign to many in France’s more traditionally funded cultural world. He was also quoted as saying, “To be a dancer is to express oneself, not to resemble a wallpaper pattern.”
Benjamin, who choreographed “Black Swan” and is married to Natalie Portman, has decided to leave following 15 months at the company, which is the top institution for the performing arts in the French capital. According to Page Six, “Millepied’s efforts to innovate at the storied Opera de Paris have met mixed reactions since his arrival 15 months ago, and French media have reported tensions between him and some of the company’s star dancers.”
However, the 38-year-old, who promised to reform the prestigious ballet company, said he wanted to focus on his own choreography and also return to Los Angeles where he lived with Natalie before moving to Paris in 2014. Last week he posted a press release on his Twitter account which announced his decision, stating that he was leaving for “personal reasons.” “After deep reflection, I’ve decided to end my role as director of dance,” adding that he wanted to “dedicate 100% to creativity” and “artistic expression.” “What’s important for me is to create, to be inspired by the parts. That’s what motivated me in the ballet and today this position (the dance director position) isn’t for me, it doesn’t suit me,” he said, as reported by Daily Mirror.
According to Page Six, Millepied, who has also danced for New York City Ballet and directed films and music videos, said he would continue to work with the company during this season and the next, and potentially in the years to come. He sought to leave the Opera de Paris on friendly terms, appearing Thursday at a news conference with his successor, star dancer Aurelie Dupont, and Opera de Paris director Stephane Lissner. “I am convinced we’ve opened up things that are really important,” Millepied said. “The future is bright.”
As reported by Page Six, his predecessor, Brigitte Lefevre, played down any resistance to his unconventional ideas, saying instead that Millepied didn’t have the necessary management experience for the job. “Directing a great institution doesn’t happen by itself,” she said on Europe-1 radio. “You must have competence and energy to manage each post, from administration to rehearsal.”